Learning from the past: a century of accuracy, aspirations, and aspersions in brachytherapy.

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The British journal of radiology


washington; swedish


The oldest form of radiation therapy, brachytherapy, has been investigated and reported in the scientific and medical literature for well over a century. Known by many names over the years, radium-based, empirical practices evolved over decades to contemporary practice. This includes treatment at various dose rates using multiple radionuclides or even electrically generated photon sources. Predictions or prognostications of what may happen in the future enjoy a history that spans centuries, e.g. those by Nostradamus in the 1500s. In this review article, publications from several eras of past practice between the early 1900s and the late 2010s where the authors address the "future of brachytherapy" are presented, and for many of these publications, one can use the benefit of the intervening years to comment on the accuracy or the inaccuracies inherent in those publications. Finally, recently published papers are reviewed to examine current expectations for the future practice of brachytherapy.

Clinical Institute